"I would be scared to death to read the numbers that Jamie ignores in the financial report," says candidate Ray Armstrong. Mayor Jamie Mayo says "He is using smoke and mirrors to deceive the public." "Mayo says we have 13 million and Ray says we're bankrupt," says candidate Clint Thomas.
The candidates for mayor have different opinions on the budget. And a number we're hearing more than any other is not an amount, but a page number in a report.
"The 13.8 million dollars on page 20 consists of cash, accounts receivable, also capital, inventory a number of things," says Mayor Mayo. It's a surplus according to Mayor Mayo, but Ray Armstrong says it's misleading.
"The actual money, cash that we have is also on page 20 and it's 987-thousand dollars," says Armstrong. And candidate Johnny Riley falls somewhere in between.
"Yes, there is a fund balance there, but my question is, do we have the money and can we write a check? I don't think we can actually write a check for the 13-plus million dollars," says Riley.
Professor of economics Robert Eisenstadt says it's similar to the situation many folks have with their own personal budgets. "It's entirely probable there are plenty of homeowners out there who owe a large amount on their home they have a great deal of debt in the form of a mortgage or they hold some credit card debt," he says.
In this case the city has issued bonds to pay for big ticket items. A common move for any city.
"But they also have some money in the bank for emergency purposes or rainy day funds," says Eisenstadt.
One thing all the candidates have in common - they say they know how to improve the budget. Even Clint Thomas who has chosen to stay out of the controversial conversations.
"I might not be good at a lot of things, but budgets is something I'm good at and I'm going to be working hard on Monroe's budget," says Thomas.
Election Day is March 24.